A sleepy-town, dead body on the beach kind of opening makes you wonder if we’ll see Olivia Coleman from Broadchurch walk right on to our screens. Instead, we have Kate Box’s Dulcie Collins almost escaping from her wife Cath to reach the crime scene. And you are not disappointed — Dulcie Collins and Eddie Redcliffe, the two female sergeants/detectives pack a powerful punch as lead investigators of the murder spree in an otherwise uneventful Deadloch, a fictional town in Tasmania. (Interesting fact: at the time of writing, the writer did not know that the show was initially meant to be known as ‘Funny Broadchurch’.)
A sleepy-town, dead body on the beach kind of opening makes you wonder if we’ll see Olivia Coleman from Broadchurch walk right on to our screens.
Produced and written by Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, Deadloch is a feminist dream and for the same reason, could be most cis-men’s nightmare. “Man-hating lesbians!”, “your kind”, are just some of the many, many choice phrases that the men use to describe the women in Deadloch. But you don’t feel bad, really. Especially because you realise very soon that Deadloch subverts the conventional portrayal of women as supplementary characters that take forward the stories of men. Men in the series are just on the periphery, hilariously caricatured, while women take centre stage in the narrative. The lead detective is a woman, the chef’s a woman, the mayor is a woman and the richest person in Deadloch, whose family took away the land of the indigenous people settled there and is now offering tokenist scholarships to the young students of the indigenous community, is also a woman. This arrangement makes you, the viewer, feel like you are in the inner circle and you can have a laugh or two at the obnoxiousness of the men in the series.
Deadloch subverts the conventional portrayal of women as supplementary characters that take forward the stories of men.
“This sort of thing, you just presume it’s a woman,” says Commissioner Spencer to Dulcie when she informs him of the dead body. And it’s true, you know. Narrative tropes conventionally try to build tantalising stories around naked, dead bodies of women, because I mean if you wanted a naked, dead body, it might as well be that of a woman’s, right? The Commissioner’s question that precedes this one, is if there was any sign of sexual assault on her body, before Dulcie corrects him. While victims are expected to be women, here you see dead bodies of men lining up one after the other, sending the hypermasculine men in the town into a frenzy, while also doing what they best can — hating on the women with even more fervour.
It is also funny that when Eddie, played by Madeleine Sami, is introduced, almost everyone expects a man to turn up. And when Eddie finally does, people around are confused as to what box of gender identity to put her into. And this dilemma looks funnier because Eddie’s antics are essentially that one would usually associate with a cis man — she swears like a drunk sailor in every breath, she burps into everyone’s faces, she doesn’t want to waste time investigating the murders, just like Commissioner Spencer, zeroing in on Skye, the lesbian chef whose orthodox father was the first to be killed, who fits the bill. You also see a contrast in Eddie’s representation eventually, wherein she yearns for companionship, and so you begin to differentiate her from the men in Deadloch who froth at their mouths when they see the queer women in the town.
This arrangement makes you, the viewer, feel like you are in the inner circle and you can have a laugh or two at the obnoxiousness of the men in the series.
Even better than Eddie’s character arc is that of Abby’s. Played by Australian comedian Nina Oyama, you see Abby grow into a brilliant detective from a clueless, frazzled woman who is often overshadowed by Nick Simpson-Deeks (played by James King), the only forensic pathologist in Deadloch and the resident insufferable king of mansplaining of the town. Man is so full of himself that when Abby confronts him for his attitude, you see him barely registering his mistakes.
At the core of it, the show highlights repercussions of what happens when evidently more privileged communities centralise themselves in narratives meant to be led by those who are affected by them. But more than that, Deadloch also makes for an excellent case study in feminist satire and humour. We cannot recommend it enough!
Watch the trailer for Deadloch here: